….Partners National Population Commission to ensure successful conduct of the proposed 2023 pcensus; highlights observations
…Undertakes Voter Education and political Sensitization across 774 LGAs ahead of 2023 elections
By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – As the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) continues to grapple with the challenges of the implementation of the naira redesign policy, the National Orientation Agency has called on political players to give the policy a chance to work. Stressing that the intention of government in approving the policy is noble and require the support of all citizens to achieve the desired goal.
This is also as the Agency is partnering with the National Population Commission (NPC) to ensure successful conduct of the proposed 2023 pcensus; highlights observations
Similarly, as Nigerians prepare to go the polls on Saturday to elect the next President that will succeed Muhammadu Buhari come May 29, 2023, the NOA has undertaken voter education and political sensitization across the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) to ensure that citizens make informed choices in the selection of their leaders.
The Director General of the Agency, Dr. Garba Abari disclosed these at a media parley on Monday while presenting the “report” of the general activities of the agency and its interventions on CBN Naira redesign, political and Voter Education, the forthcoming National Housing and population census among other engagements of the agency.
Sundiata Post recalls that the NOA is the primary agency of the Federal Government that has the mandate to explain government policy directives and these three listed issues are presently, the dominant programmes of government that have far reaching implications for our political, economic and social development as a nation.
Dr. Abire reminded that after the announcement of the naira redesign policy of the CBN, the NOA took the message to the people, and within the framework of their partnership with the CBN, the agency distributed massively printed Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on essential messages on the policy, including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). It also embarked on a door-to-door campaign, advocacy to community and religious leaders, visits to media houses and TV/Radio appearances, social media discussions and motorized and road walk campaigns. Adding that most of these message jingles were translated into local languages.
He also stated that they conveyed reports from their field officers to the CBN during their second meeting and the following observations were raised namely:
- People were of the opinion that NOA sensitization campaign should have commenced earlier before the new Naira Redesign Policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria commenced, so as to gain citizens buyin.
Stakeholders commended the NOA and CBN for the sensitization campaign and promised to step down the messages to others so as to meet up with the deadline.
2. It was observed that there were large number of people who misconceived or have wrong perception of the New Naira Redesign Policy of the
Central Bank of Nigeria.
3. There is the need to redouble efforts towards creating more awareness on the policy.
4. Some people were of the opinion that time allocated for the change of New Naira notes is insufficient and many people can’t meet the deadline.
5. Commercial banks were not issuing the new Naira notes to the public as a result most People in the rural areas said they were yet to see the New redesigned Naira notes. .
6. People expressed concern over the non availability of the new Naira notes in circulation which in turn affected their businesses.
7. It was also observed that before the deadline, some people have commenced the rejection of old Naira notes which is contrary to the Central Bank directives.
8. Members of the public observed that the Banks were still issuing the old Naira notes to customers.
9. Many people complained of shortages in circulation of the new Naira notes as a result they are not completely convinced on how to exchange their old naira notes to the new ones.
10. The people were not convinced with the timing as there are few days to go yet old Naira notes are still dispensed by banks.
12. People without western education expressed fears in opening bank accounts.
13. Some people didn’t take the currency design seriously until the sensitization programme was embarked upon by National Orientation Agency.
14. Most of the Market men and women complained of not having bank accounts.
15 Members of the public believed the naira redesign policy is a misplaced priority, as there are a lot of Nigerians living below poverty line.
16. People showed their relief as vivid explanation and demonstration was done for them to distinguish the Original banknotes from the Counterfeit by identifying the CBN inscription on the notes using the Original new notes.
17. It was observed that most of them have not physically seen any of the newly redesigned naira notes.
18) It was observed that most of the people still have the old notes stocked at home because they don’t have account in any Bank.
19 It was also observed that marketers and POS Agents started rejecting the old notes thereby inflicting hardship on the people.
In his remarks about the partnership with NPC, the NOA DG said it is built on the need for grassroots mobilisation and awareness creation. He said the objective of the first phase of the collaboration is to strengthen institutional capacity of both the NOA and the Commission to synergise, understand communication landscape and delivery channels for a huge exercise such as the population census.
The collaboration also seeks to entrench citizen’s buy in to enable them to take ownership of the exercise.
In order to create awareness, community orientation and mobilisation officers of the NOA in the 774 alongside the NPC local government controllers jointly designed awareness creation activities for the forthcoming census. They range from road shows to walks, advocacy to community leaders, mounted public address platform in community centres and the distribution of IEC material as the team went about its work.
At the national level here in Abuja, a road show was planned and organised by the NOA and was flagged off by both the chairman of the NPC and the DG of NOA. The first group led by DGNOA took off from the Area 1, Garki Head office of the NOA through Area1, 2 and 10 while the second group led by the NPC chair took off from the zone 7 head office of the Population commission, marched through zone 3, 1, central Business district and joined the first group at the old parade ground. Leaders of the two teams addressed the gathering consisting of NYSC corps members, youth groups, market women association, NOA staff, NPC
During the road show, placard with various messages were displayed while also distributing fliers with key messages to passerby.
In addition to the flag off, the FCT directorate of the NOA took the sensitization campaign and advocacy to traditional ruler of Abaji, Ona of Abaji, the Etsu of Bwari, Etsu Kwali and sarkin Jiwa among others.
At the states, two key strategies were employed including road shows and capacity building workshops for field officers of both the NPC and NOA. The activities took place between November 15 -30 in various state capitals.
According to the DG, the agency made the following observations:
- Many young Nigerians are desirous of more information about the census having not experienced any since their birth. The last census was conducted 16 years ago.
- Many wants to know the exact period of the exercise.
- Some Nigeria has preconceived notion about the concept census. They believe it is a political activity meant to enhance political advantage to some parts of the country.
- many sought explanation on the concept of “digital census” which is being promoted as the main feature of the planned exercise.
- many also wants to know how the housing aspect of the census will be done.
- citizens querried why the census is planned the same period as the election
- most people were of the view that more awareness should be carried out in dispelling conception on the 2023 census exercise.
- one key observation was the need for the NOA to leverage on its existing capacity, reach and community based experience to lead the sensitization, advocacy and publicity campaign for the 2023 census exercise.
It noted that clearly the political events associated with the general election is overshadowing the census awareness but the strategy is to continuously sensitize Nigerians on the exercise.
In the area of Voter Education and political Sensitization, Abari hinted that NOA has utilised the long period allowed by the new Electoral act for the proclamation and holding of the election to mobilise Nigerians to prepare to vote and be voted for.
In his words: The total of about 50 jingles were produced in many languages including English, Pidgin English, Yoruba, Okun dialect, Itsekiri, Urhobo, kanuri, Tiv, Igbo, Nupe, Igala, Gbagyi, Birom, Hausa, Ibibio, Fulfude, Afemai, Bini, Ishan, Kalabari, Ijaw, among others. It was the first time we were using our staff to voice and then later standardise the material for circulation through social media. In this day of pervasive social media influence, our staff at the headquarters, states and local government were encouraged to share the jingle in social media platforms where they are part of.
“The simple message is for citizens to make the effort to register and obtain their Permanent Voter cards (PVC). This helped us to fulfil our set aim of mobilise for voter registration.”
“In addition, we joined other stakeholders through social Media discussions, television and radio appearances to disseminate messages that will promote voter registration across the country.
Building a people of Peace.
He stated that NOA has remained consistent in its social communication strategy by sending out messages of peace. He informed that leaflets and jingles promoting peace and order have been sent out to various opinion leaders especially, the traditional and religious leaders to prevail on their supporters to shun violence. One of the leaflets “Say No To Election Violence has been translated into pidgin, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa languages. The second one, “Lets live together in Peace”.
Abari emphasized that the state and local government officers have been directed to include messages of peace in any sensitization outreach in their areas of operation as part of effort to promote peace during the election.
Finally, the Agency orgainsed a successful political parties summit with objective of sensitise parties on the need to comply with new electoral act, discourage electoral violence and promote electoral security, he added.